Video Clips

Click on the videos below to watch short excerpts from THE JEWISH AMERICANS.

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Migration: The Diaspora in America

Historian Deborah Dash Moore and Rabbi Rachel Cowan explain Abigail Frank’s dilemma.


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg describes the way Jews were treated in the early 1800s and why the “Jew Bill” made a difference.


Historian Hasia Diner, author Joyce Mendelsohn, actor Fyvush Finkel, and playwright Tony Kushner describe the living conditions of the Lower East Side.

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Assimilation: Making America Home

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg points out many of us are not that far removed from the first generation of immigrants.


Historian Joyce Mendelsohn and current editor of the Jewish Daily Forward, J. J. Goldberg, describe the importance of the The Jewish Daily Forward to Jewish immigrants.


Current editor of the Forward J. J. Goldberg, “Dear Abby” columnist Jeanne Phillips, and historian Deborah Dash Moore capture the influential reach of Abraham Cahan’s ‘Bintel Brief.’

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The Pursuit of Economic Success: From Peddler to Merchant

Rabbi Rachel Cowan discusses the phenomenal success story.


Comedian Carl Reiner recalls how his mother started working in the garment industry at eight years of age.


Historian Arthur Goren describes how Jewish Americans had deeply held beliefs about fair labor laws and how they overwhelmingly supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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Doing Well and Doing Good: Education and Philanthropy

Historian Deborah Dash Moore, playwright Tony Kushner, cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer, and author Letty Cottin Pogrebin discuss how Jewish Americans impressed upon their children the importance of education.


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, historian Harold Wechsler, and sociologist Nathan Glazer reflect on the quota system that discriminated against Jews.


Ambassador John L. Loeb, Jr., author Joyce Mendelsohn, author/philanthropist Lee Meyerhoff Hendler, and co-founder of The Home Depot Bernie Marcus discuss the importance of tzedakah and how Jacob Schiff embodied the spirit of tzedakah. Toward the end of the clip, author Joyce Mendelsohn and Jacob Schiff’s great-great-grandson, Andrew Schiff, discuss how the Henry Street Settlement came to fruition and how it is still flourishing.

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Anti-Semitism in America

Only one year after the lynching of Leo Frank, President Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis D. Brandeis to the Supreme Court in 1916. In this film clip, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discusses the bigotry that Justice Brandeis had to endure while serving on the Court.


Biographer Neil Baldwin and historians Hasia Diner, and Jonathan D. Sarna discuss Henry Ford.


Jewish Americans recall the bitter reality of anti-Semitism they have witnessed. Featured in this clip are Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, historian Harold Wechsler, and comedian Sid Caesar.

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Jews on Field and Stage: Sports and the Arts

Called “America’s most popular songwriter,” Irving Berlin was 30 years old when he was drafted into the army during World War I. The following clip explores Berlin’s love of America with composer/author Jack Gottlieb, Linda Emmet, Irving Berlin’s daughter and singer/actor Mandy Patinkin.


Author/film critic J. Hoberman, music director of the San Francisco Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas, actor Fyvush Finkel, and playwright Tony Kushner discuss the importance of the Yiddish Theater. Mr. Thomas is the grandson of Boris Thomashefsky, the premiere star of the Yiddish Theater in its heyday.


Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” exemplified Jewish American comedic talent in the 1950s. In this film clip, comedians Carl Reiner, Freddie Roman, Jerry Stiller, and Sid Caesar reminisce about the Catskills during its heyday, recalling that many comedians learned their craft there.

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America's Response to the Holocaust

Historian John Morton Blum and Henry Morgenthau’s sons, Henry Morgenthau III, and Robert Morgenthau, describe how Americans and the Roosevelt administration reacted to news about European Jews being in peril.


Alan Moskin, a GI in World War II, recalls finding a “camp for Jews.”


Former chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Jacqueline Levine, Jewish American Richard Greenstein, social psychologist Bethamie Horowitz, Jewish American GI in World War II Paul Steinfeld, and Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis reflect on the horror of the Holocaust. Rabbi Schulweis also discusses his idea to “recognize the rescuers.”

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A Jewish Homeland

Biographer and law professor Robert A. Burt and editor of The Jewish Daily Forward J. J. Goldberg discuss Louis D. Brandeis and his fervent support of Zionism and how that had an impact on Jewish Americans.


Historian Arthur Goren, author Letty Cottin Pogrebin, editor of the Jewish Daily Forward  J. J. Goldberg, and Trustee, United Jewish Communities Shoshana S. Cardin describe the feeling that Jewish Americans felt about the founding of the State of Israel. They also discuss how Jewish Americans raised funds for the cause.


Chair of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry Shoshana S. Cardin, editor of the Jewish Daily Forward J. J. Goldberg, playwright Tony Kushner, and Rabbi Saul Berman discuss how American Jews reacted to the news that Israel was under attack in 1967.

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Political Activism

Co-founder of CORE James Farmer, president of the University of Pennsylvania Amy Gutmann, former chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Jacqueline Levine, former president of the National Council of Negro Women Dorothy Height, Rabbi Saul Berman, and Reverend C. Herbert Oliver discuss the Civil Rights Movement and how Jewish Americans became involved with the movement.


Rabbi Rachel Cowan remembers Freedom Summer in 1964 and the murder of James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. A volunteer herself with Freedom Summer, Rabbi Cowan reflects on the number of Jewish Americans who were deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement and how it felt when the black community told the white community to let them handle the movement themselves. In addition to Rabbi Cowan, others in the clip include: former president of the National Council of Negro Women Dorothy Height, author Julius Lester, playwright Tony Kushner, and civil rights activist Dorothy Zellner.


In August of 1970, tens of thousands of marchers on New York’s Fifth Avenue demanded equal rights for women. In this film clip, historian Joyce Antler and  author and founding editor of Ms. magazine Letty Cottin Pogrebin, remember the movement’s heyday and how Jewish American women spearheaded the feminist cause.  Rabbi David Silber, Rabbi Mordechai Swiatycki, Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, and Rabbi Laura Geller offer perspectives on the role of women in traditional Judaism.

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Being Jewish in Modern America

A renowned spiritual leader of our time, the Dalai Lama embodies courage, compassion and wisdom. He has been in exile ever since 1959 when the Chinese occupied his homeland Tibet.As Rabbi Joy Levitt explains in the following film clip, many Jews sympathize with the plight of Tibetans and their exile.

In the film clip, Rabbi Irwin Kula, Rabbi Joy Levitt, Rabbi Rachel Cowan, and Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of The Storahtelling Company, discuss the meeting with the Dalai Lama, the role of meditation in Judaism, and what it means to be a Jew in America today.


Rabbi Saul Berman describes how the Orthodox have had a resurgence at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century.


Today in America, a younger generation of Jews is creating new ways to express themselves. In this film clip, Hassidic rapper Matisyahu, originally a secular Jew from White Plains, New York, talks about his journey to find new meaning in Judaism by utilizing music.